Her life very nearly ended almost as soon as it began, but there was obviously another plan in store for Skyler James. Eighteen years later, she met the firefighter who made all the difference in the world, the man who rescued her from certain death when she was a tiny baby.
It was a very cold morning on November 4, 1995, with wind chill temperatures down to 20 below zero, when firefighter Charlie Heflin heard the report on his scanner that a 911 call had come in saying that there was a baby by a pine tree at Mount Hope Cemetery. According to ABC, firefighters headed there in hopes of finding the baby, but they were still coming up empty after ten minutes.
That is when Heflin, on a hunch, decided to search a different cemetery. He didn’t find anything, and headed back to his car. He told 14News that something told him to go back one more time, so he listened to that inner voice or instinct. He was very glad he did.
So is Skyler.
That is when he heard a little whimper. The firefighter found the baby among the leaves, wrapped in a Raggedy Anne baby blanket, still covered in blood. Her umbilical cord had been tied off with a shoestring.
The rescuer took off his overcoat to wrap the freezing newborn baby in, and held her up against his fleece firefighter jacket to try to warm her up. After the ambulance arrived to take the baby to the hospital, he never saw her again.
According to an interview with CNN, Heflin didn’t even tell his family. It was all in the line of duty. Saving lives and rescuing people is what firefighters do. But to the public, that makes him a hero. The media showed up a few hours later, and the story of the firefighter’s rescue of the abandoned baby made local headlines.
Those headlines were all that Bonnie and Greg James had to go on, in their effort to find the firefighter hero who saved the life of the baby that they adopted five days later.
It has taken them until now to locate Lt. Heflin. Bonnie began her search for him back in the year 2000, and has only recently found him. But they kept it a secret until the day of Skyler’s graduation with honors from high school.
After watching her receive her diploma, Charlie Heflin was a special guest at Skyler’s graduation party. Her parents called her over to meet someone, and that is when the surprise reunion happened. Skylar was “totally shocked” as she realized who it was that she was meeting, and the tears flowed freely, on both sides. It was a day that she has “dreamed of since I was a little kid, and it’s amazing.”
Her firefighter rescuer presented her with the coat he was wearing when he rescued her, as well as with framed clippings from the newspaper.
Now that they have met, they plan to stay in touch. Skyler’s plans are to attend Concordia University in Chicago, majoring in communications.
“It’s very important to me to remind myself that even though I had a rough start in life, I have an amazing life and I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I’m just so blessed that God has given me this great life.”
Skyler James hopes to one day become a pastor, reports ABC, and to share her story.Her beautiful response is not all that surprising. There seems to be a common thread among many people who survived abandonment as newborns and those who survived abortion attempts on their lives, that there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for their life that very nearly wasn’t, the miracle of a life that was rescued. Perhaps there is a deep-seated awareness that, if it were not for the hand of God directly saving their life, they wouldn’t be here at all.
Her life has possibly led to other lives being spared as well: it is Skyler’s story that inspired the state of Illinois to adopt its Safe Haven Law, in which parents may leave their baby up to 30 days old at any hospital, police or fire station, without fear of prosecution. As long as the baby has not been harmed, the child may be handed to a staff member, no questions asked.
Now there are Safe Haven Laws in each of the 50 states, with varying provisions. No baby need ever be killed or abandoned in an unsafe place if the mother does not feel she can take care of her baby. Stories like the “frozen baby mom” reported last year by The Inquisitr don’t have to happen, no matter how desperate the mother is. There are loving people willing to adopt any unwanted baby.
Sklyer James’ story has a sweet ending, and a bright future, thanks to the heroic act of Lt. Charlie Heflin, a firefighter who was “just doing his job” when he rescued a tiny baby left to die in a cemetery. Because he listened to his gut feeling, she is alive today to tell her story.
[images via bing]